Lean manufacturing for PCB hand assembly
How do you ensure operators place the right component in the right place and with the right orientation on the board every time? It’s easy, and it’s what we’ve been helping companies to achieve around the world for almost 30 years.
Mascot automates and streamlines the PCB hand assembly process, making it fast, reliable and productive. The benefits include improved product quality, increased throughput, the virtual elimination of set up time and reduced rework, helping to drive productivity.
How Mascot works
Three key Mascot features help to eliminate errors and drive productivity:
- Computerised step-by-step work instructions are displayed to the operator.
- Motorised carousels automatically present the correct component.
- A laser highlights the exact location on the board.
It’s an assured process that makes PCB hand assembly fast, consistent and easy.
Mascot also provides images of components, parts or subassemblies for improved process clarity, and videos to walk the operator through assembly procedures. Each Mascot station can accommodate up to 376 different components – enough capacity for the largest of boards, or for several different boards with no set up or changeover delays.
Motorised carousels present the operator with the right component at every step. The innovative eye-safe laser indicator even highlights the correct component orientation, leaving absolutely nothing to chance.
There is an efficient solution when Mascot runs low on materials. Kanban signals alert stores to notify of low stock, leaving to operator free to continue assembly uninterrupted – a further boost to lean manufacturing productivity.
Two standard Mascot configurations meet the majority of needs – a Standalone Station and a Pushtrack Station. However, Custom Stations are also popular as these can be optimised for specific assembly processes.
Thanks to exceptional modularity, Mascot is designed to meet any PCB assembly application or budget. Customers can choose a single carousel, four carousels or no carousels at all. Even the workbench is optional, allowing Mascot elements to be integrated into existing workstations. Robotas will configure everything to deliver the perfect system to drive manufacturing quality and productivity.
Mascot Standalone is ideal where the station is not required in an assembly line. In these applications, a single operator will typically build the entire PCB, guided perfectly through the process by Mascot’s clear instructions and bright laser indicator. We know that workspace comfort is essential for productivity, so the Standalone model features excellent ergonomics with its height-adjustable worktable placing everything directly at hand. It is available in two sizes, accommodating PCBs or pallets up to 600mm x 500mm.
With lean manufacturing as its primary objective, Pushtrack models are installed in line, with operators at each station building a specific part of the PCB before being instructed to pass the board downline to the next Mascot. A flow line can feature as many Mascots as needed to balance the materials inventory between stations to maximise efficiency and productivity. This process is perfect for high volumes and small batches with ample capacity for the entire inventory, eliminating kitting and set up time. The non-motorised pushtrack is ride-height and line-width adjustable to accommodate PCBs and pallets up to 500mm in depth.
Mascot’s key system parts - the Laserhead, Screen and Carousels – can be easily retrofitted and integrated into production lines, delivering all the productivity benefits of streamlined hand assembly to existing workbenches or motorised conveyors.
Software is at the heart of every Mascot system. Mascot software is easy to use and intuitive. User friendly programming tools make the creation of PCB assembly work instructions both simple and fast.
Included with every Mascot station is a suite of intuitive software tools to create step-by-step work instructions. Among these is an Auto Image facility to upload a captured image of a ‘golden board’, ready to use as a visual operator reference for every assembly process step. There’s also an intelligent Wizard to speed up the programming, tools to add sound and visual polarity indicators for components that need it, verification stages to ensure the integrity of critical process steps, an import mechanism to quickly create new assemblies from existing parts, and drag & drop functions to easily rearrange the assembly sequence. In addition, for panelised PCB assemblies, a step & repeat tool generates the work instructions for other boards in the matrix in seconds.
Among the most efficient methods of generating a Mascot assembly procedure is to use the optional Robotas Pro Compiler package. Pro Compiler imports existing PCB CAD data and Bill of Materials (BOM) files to create the majority of the assembly program in a matter of minutes.
Supported CAD formats include ODB++, CADIF, GenCAD, Mentor Neutral, Gerber Drill Files, Pads, CadStar, Calay, Protel, Cimbridge, PCAD, Fabmaster, Tango, Eagle and more.
To maximise overall productivity and traceability, optional Workflow software collects and analyses time and other production data from every Mascot station to track throughput against work schedules in real time, and to log critical production data.
Low Bin Monitor
As part of a Kanban methodology, operators can signal directly to stores that they are running low on material by pressing the ‘Need’ button. Materials Control can then replenish the Mascot’s inventory seamlessly without operator interruption, to further streamline lean manufacturing.
Many useful accessories are available to complement Mascot. From extra materials storage options such as additional carousels, trays, bins and IC dispensers to hardware enhancements such as articulated carousel arms and barcode readers, the Mascot portfolio has every resource needed to perfectly optimise each workstation for its task.
Download Mascot Data Sheet
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For our through-hole work, we originally had carousels but with no visual aids for our operators. We therefore had to rely on our experienced operators’ expertise and memories. Everything was a m...